DOUBLE A-SIDE SINGLE REVIEW: Always/Kiss at High Frequency by Victoria Fragoso

Victoria Fragoso is an alternative/indie singer songwriter currently residing in Tacoma, Washington. A plethora of influences have shaped her artistic development including her Hispanic heritage, her training in classical piano and background in musical theatre, as well as her degree in Creative Writing from Chapman University, South California. Her musical development was also shaped through many years of coffee house performances, a perfect environment for a singer/songwriter to learn their craft and grow as a performer. This eventually resulted in releasing her first material in 2019, the five track EP This River. 2020 and 2021, the years of the pandemic, saw her releasing a series of singles including Do You Mind, Beautiful Things, Heavy Heart and Weight of Limitations amongst others.

This latest single is, in fact, a double A-side release, which was a common practice in the 60’s and 70’s (The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane single being an obvious example). This is fitting as Victoria’s musical style is reminiscent of the classic female singer songwriters of that era such as Carole King and Joni Mitchell combined with more modern artists such as Sara Bareilles, Katie Melua, Laura Marling and Tori Amos.

The first song Always is essentially a piano-led ballad, also featuring guitar work from Blake Tomasch & Paul Morgan. From the outset the song makes an immediate impression with Victoria’s distinctive and captivating vocals taking centre stage. Possessing a sweet, lilting tone akin to Katie Melua, Always provides the perfect showcase for her as both singer and songwriter. Her skills in creative writing also come to the fore through the imaginative, poetic nature of the lyrics: “I’m not a book but I love how you read me, I’m not a picture but I love how you see me….”.

The song’s poignant and affecting lead melody is equal to the words, resulting in a touchingly romantic song that sidesteps mere sentimentality and cliche, expressing deep feelings in a refreshing and seemingly effortless way. Alongside the guitar contributions, the arrangement is enriched by pizzicato synth string lines and chordal swells as well as a simple but effective beat which completes the sonic picture. With its radio friendly sound (Victoria,impressively, also produces her own material) and instantly memorable title hook, Always has all the ingredients necessary for a huge hit.

The second song, the “flip side”, is Kiss at High Frequency, which has a similar charm in terms of its melodic style but with a full beat that kicks in almost from the start. Underpinned by a swirling piano arpeggio that recurs throughout the song, the lyrics depict a moving situation of feeling love for someone without knowing how they feel in return. The opening lines capture this emotional vulnerability perfectly: “I’m sending you a kiss at high frequency, one no one can hear, no one can see… I’ve tried magic tricks and fireworks and stars but they never seem to reach your heart, they only make us seem so far apart…”.

The ability to express these kind of deep, innermost feelings is at the heart of what makes a good artist and Victoria clearly has this gift in spades, along with a fine ear for melody. Once again, the arrangement is augmented by tasteful and well crafted guitar contributions along with synth strings, though it’s Fragoso’s enchanting vocals that dominate, as they should.

A very strong song in its own right, it would make a good single on its own but works well as part of this double A side, the perfect complement to Always.

Overall, this latest release from Victoria Fragoso features two superb songs that capture her talents as both a singer and songwriter. Gifted as both lyricist and melodist, she is also blessed with a wonderful voice that conveys the deep emotions portrayed in her nuanced, articulate lyrics. With a commercial appeal equal to that of Katie Melua or Norah Jones, there’s absolutely no doubt Victoria Fragoso has everything it takes to enjoy similar global success and this release could be an important stepping stone to that goal.

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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